Social isolation and loneliness may result in poor recovery following crisis

1. Limited social interaction following a mental health crisis reduces self-reported recovery at 18-month follow-up.

2. Social support and interventions may improve recovery in individuals who are mental health service users, particularly when sever loneliness is reported.

Evidence Rating Level: 3 (Average)

Recovery following a mental health event may depend on a variety of factors, including engagement in mental health services and social support. Loneliness can be classified as intermittent or persistent and can vary in severity. The mediating role of loneliness on mental health following a crisis has not previously been elucidated.

The purpose of this prospective study was to evaluate the impact of loneliness on recovery following a mental health crisis. Individuals were included who visited a crisis resolution team for a week of longer and were over the age of 18. Exclusion criteria included individuals with high safety risk or having been discharged from the crisis resolution team more than a month prior. Loneliness was measured with the University of California at Los Angeles Loneliness Scale (ULS-8) and the The Lubben Social Network Scale (LSNS-6). Recovery was measured at 4 and 18 months with the questionnaire about the process of recovery (QPR).

A total of 223 participants were included, of which 16% were persistently severely lonely and 34% were intermittently severely lonely. Persistent severe loneliness and social isolation were associated with significantly reduced recovery at 18-month follow-up. The study was limited in that information on possible confounding mental health variables was missing for several participants and that the follow-up attrition rate was 44%. Nonetheless, the results of the present study suggested that loneliness and social isolation may have a significant impact on reducing the recovery of individuals admitted to mental health services for crises.

Click to read the study in BMC Psychiatry

Image: PD

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